– THE CHARM OFFENSIVE –
For those not familiar with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s history, it’s a story that is well-worth reading up on.
It’s the story of a band that started in the 60s to help preserve the unique character of New Orleans music and culture, fighting off all that the decades have thrown at it (including Hurricane Katrina in 2005) in the process.
It’s the story of a band passed down from generation to generation, most notably in the case of founder and tuba player Allan Jaffe, whose son Ben leads the current incarnation.
In short, it’s the story of how music helps each of us understand who we are, as well as helping us build bridges with others. Music made as much for the purposes of is for shaping as for sharing.
Here, 50+ years, 20+ albums and many, many band members later, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band release an album, A Tuba to Cuba that once again builds bridges. This time, the connection extends right down from NOLA to Havana in search of the two cities’ shared heritage.
Jaffe Jr. has described the songs as “a beautiful conversation” between New Orleans jazz and indigenous Cuban music. And he couldn’t be more right.
From a back-beat that twins Zigaboo Modeliste kit stylings with Central American percussion, while also seeing the rapped latino delivery of guest singer Eme Alfonso playing off the French Quarter funky horns of Ronell Johnson (trombone), Branden Lewis (trumpet) and Clint Maedgen (saxophone), Keep Your Head Up combines probably the two most joyous forms of music in the world to make a good vibes musical Megatron the likes of which would get even Optimus Prime pulling out his best Psy impression (again).
In February, a documentary chronicling the group’s visit to Cuba was released; essential extra-curricular studying for those inspired enough by the music to learn more.
The album A Tuba to Cuba is out now through Sub Pop.
MORE FROM THIS WEEK’S MIX
P.S. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.
– SV –